Booklet 5: Development of attachment (Social) (Key Research: Ainsworth…
Booklet 5: Development of attachment (Social)
Attachment- affectional tie a person forms with another person.
Psychologists interested in bonds between babies and their main carer. Mother-baby bond, norm for mothers to play main role in child rearing.
Now look at adults and types of attachment forming with main carer reflecting in attachments found in adulthood.
Babies born no innate behaviours and all behaviour is learnt. Classical conditioning- Child associates carer with feeling good as they fix things, e.g. help when tired, hungry.
Operant conditioning- child reinforced by crying as carer appears and removes the unpleasant feeling.
Harlow carried out research into baby rhesus monkeys, baby monkeys will choose cuddly surrogate mother over the wire one that fed them. If the monkey was scared it would run to cuddly mother not feeding one, contradicting behaviourist theory.
John Bowlby (1957) human infants possess adaptive mechanisms, several innate behaviours key to shaping and controlling parenting responses. Known as 'social releasers' e.g. smiling, crying. Mothers innately programmed to respond to this behaviour. Infants make one main attachment- 'monotrophy'. In order to survive babies need to bond quickly with their mothers.
Lorenz created a theory of imprinting, this happens during the critical period. When animal 'imprints' recognises characteristics of a parent.
Examples of Social releasers
Smiling- starts at 5 weeks, elicits attention, smiling and interaction, strengthens bond.
Crying- cry when hungry, cold or in pain, difficult to ignore. Parent learn through negative reinforcement.
Sucking- obtain milk, offering breast milk and bottle.
4 stages of development
(0-2 months), infants don't discriminate- no fear of strangers.
2. Attachment in the making:
(2-8 months) infant prefers a particular person. Doesn't protest when separated.
3. Clear-cut attachment:
(8-18 months) cry when separated from caregiver. Attached to more than one person.
4. Formation of reciprocal attachment:
(18-24 months) understand caregivers schedule.
4 types of parent-infant attachment
Internal working models- organised representations of experience providing a framework understanding self and guiding new behaviour.
Children form mental representation of first attachment relationship forming a model for later relationships. (Bowlby)
parents react quickly to child's needs, responsive. This means the child is distressed when caregiver leaves, happy when they return, seek comfort when scared or sad. (Trust people in adulthood).
Unresponsive, uncaring, dismissive. Don't get distressed when caregiver leaves and doesn't acknowledge their return. Doesn't make contact with caregiver. (when adults- doesn't open up and trust people)
responds to children inconsistently, distress when caregiver leaves. Don't feel comfort when they return. (Preoccupied, obsessive to keep obsessiveness).
abusive or neglectful, responds in frightened ways. So child not attached, appear dazed, confused, apprehensive, in presence of caregiver.
Impacts of failure to develop attachments (Bowlby)
Delinquent behaviour is as a result of faulty parent-child attachment.
Maternal deprivation hypothesis
suggested 2 potential outcomes from failure to form close attachment within 18 months to 2 years.
inability to feel empathy, guilt or affection towards others. huge effect on ability to develop and maintain relationships with others.
Bowlby linked critical period development with cognitive development so without presence of attachment figure, intellect could be delayed.
Key Research: Ainsworth & Bell (1970)
Devised an assessment technique called Strange Situation Classification investigate how attachments might vary between children.
interested in interaction between attachment, exploration, separation protest, stranger anxiety and proximity seeking. Controlled lab environment.
investigate interaction between infant attachment behaviour, response to unfamiliar situations and separation from and reunion with mother. Shifting balance between exploratory and attachment as evolutionary view of attachment.
56 infants white, middle class parents took part. 23 observed longitudinally from birth were 51 weeks old at time of study. 33 infants 49 weeks old.
Controlled observation, observed through one-way mirror, standardised procedure called strange situation. 8 episodes in a standard order, elicit exploratory behaviour, evoke fear heighten attachment. Infants reaction to mother leaving- separation protest. Reaction being alone with a stranger- stranger anxiety. Reaction when mother returned to the room- proximity seeking. Inter-rater reliability checked found as high as 0.99.
8 episodes of strange situation:
Observer shows caregiver and infant into experimental room and leaves (30 secs).
Caregiver sits and watches child play (3 mins).
Stranger enters, silent, talks to caregiver, interacts with infant, caregiver leaves room (3 mins).
First separation. Stranger tries to interact with infant (3 mins).
First reunion. Caregiver comforts child, stranger leaves, caregiver leaves (3 mins).
Second separation. Child alone (3 mins).
Stranger enters tries to interact with child.
Second reunion. Caregiver comforts child, stranger leaves.
All last for 3 mins apart from 1, unless child gets distressed.
2 quantitative measurements taken from narratives of 2 observers describing behaviour.
Based on 4 interaction behaviours directed towards mother. 1. Proximity and contact seeking. 2. Contact maintaining. 3. Avoidance of proximity and contact. 4. Resistance to contact and comforting. Behaviour displayed 15 second intervals, scores behaviour 1-7. Other behaviours observed; exploratory behaviours, search behaviours, affect displays negative.
Children explored much less with mother than stranger, when mother returned interacted more with her than stranger. Children showed little distress when stranger entered, increased when mother left. Child cried when mother left and continued when stranger entered. Infants sought proximity when mothers returned, contact maintained. Some infants showed resistance to mother on her first return, over half demonstrated it, less so to stranger as time went on.
70% secure, 15% Insecure avoidant, 15% Insecure Resistant, 15% Insecure Disorganised
Strange Situation Conclusion:
'Sensitive mothers' responsive to child's needs and respond to moods and feelings correctly. Sensitive mothers- securely attached children. Mothers less sensitive to their child-insecurely attached children. Exploration dependent on presence of parent, without them exploration's avoided attachment behaviour heightened. Attachment behaviour increased/decreased by conditions, predisposed to seek proximity to attachment figure. Individual differences but doesn't mean differences in strength of attachment. Provides evidence for Bowlby.
Application: develop an attachment friendly environment.
In 1950's parents weren't allowed in hospital with children in hospital in case they upset them. Policies changed dramatically since Bowlby's work, recognising sick children still have emotional and social needs best met by primary carers. To create more attachment friendly environments, institutions have adopted Family Centred Care. Enabling parents to be on hand, e.g. accommodation close by or beds in child's room to maintain attachment bonds. E.g. Ronald McDonald charities
Key Person Approach
When children are going to nurseries for the full day needs to be supplementary attachment figures. Young children can make many attachments so operate 'key person approach' . They can provide comfort to child. Child greeted by key worker and then reunited with parents at end of the day.
Social Care interventions
Changes in social services and welfare systems- 50's and 60's child removed from family homes sent to live in foster care or in group homes as born to unmarried mothers or lived in impoverished and overcrowded homes. Offering support preferable to separation (Bowlby). US interventions 'Ontrack attachment': Building parenting capacities; reducing attachment trauma; reducing intergenerational transmission of attachment-related disorders.